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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Jim Croce’s son finally embraces his legendary father’s music

Time has a way of healing wounds and stoking memories. But sometimes, the wounds linger as the clock keeps ticking.

The clock stopped 50 years ago for Jim Croce. The gifted singer/songwriter was killed in an airplane crash on Sept. 20, 1973. He was 30 and coming off his biggest hits, including “Operator,” “Time In A Bottle” and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.”

Croce’s voice was stilled but his music and words live on. And so does his son, A.J. Croce, who carved out his own musical identity and plays Savannah Center on Thursday.

AJ Croce has had his own successful music career
A.J. Croce has had his own successful music career.

Life –and death – can be filled with irony. Jim Croce’s genius was detailing the bitter, funny, loving and mournful moments of everyday life.

A.J. Croce’s remarkable and sometimes tragic life has endured all those moments. He was not yet 2, when his father died. He lost his sight when he was 4 but eventually regained some sight. His home burned down in a fire and his wife died from a heart condition.

It all brings to mind some Jim Croce lyrics:

“Photographs and memories/All the love you gave to me/Somehow it just can’t be true/That’s all I’ve left of you”

Jim Croce greatest hits album has sold millions of copies since his death in 1973
Jim Croce’s greatest hits album has sold millions of copies since his death in 1973.

A.J. Croce knows better than most people that life goes on.
“When we lose someone we love, whether it was my father, my wife, my sight, we can decide how we want to bring it into our life,” he told CBS television. “Do we want to dwell on it? Do we want to find the best part of that person, that experience, and keep it with us?”

A.J. Croce, 52, has had a long and successful music career over the past three decades. He’s recorded 10 albums, toured the world and is regarded as a “virtuoso piano player.”

He has toured with Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Lenny Kravitz, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and B.B. King. For most of his career, A.J. refused to just play concerts with his father’s songs.

But after turning 50, A.J. decided it was time and that led to the “Croce Plays Croce” concert tour. The 7 p.m. Thursday show at Savannah Center is sold out.

“I realized that he’s part of my life and I’m a part of his legacy,” A.J. told CBS. “And I felt it was important at a certain age and at a certain maturity to embrace it.”

One song that remains special is “Time In A Bottle.”
“It’s incredibly emotional,” he said. “It was written for me, and it sums up this emotion that he felt for my mother and for myself.”

Here’s a video:

A.J. Croce’s life took a dark turn after his father’s death. His mother, Ingrid, became involved with a man whom he says brutally beat him until he became blind.

It took nearly 6 years for A.J. to recover some of his sight. In 2018, his wife, Marlo Gordon Croce –mother of his two children — died of a rare and sudden heart virus.

Once again, confronted with tragedy, A.J. Croce decided to move on and live.

“I had an opportunity to choose how I wanted to live my life,” he said in an interview with the ListenIowa website. “I could live in the past, or I could continue pursuing the things that inspire me and remain positive about the beautiful things in life. It was a state of mind that allowed me to recognize that I find a great amount of joy in life and music and laughter, and I wasn’t going to let that go. It was just going to be different.”
The concert stage is a place where A.J. Croce can unite the past and present with his father and his own “Photographs and Memories,” that Jim Croce used to sing about.

Maybe that’s the way to cope with loss.
“If it’s not the cure,” A.J. told CBS, “It’s a really good remedy.”

Tony Violanti covers music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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